A heartfelt apology to you…

When I started this blog last year, I had visions of regaling you with endless tales of whimsy and fascination. I’ve spent the last months trying to wring some worthy fiction from this brain o’ mine. I’ve tried to to force this square peg of a blog into the round hole of my dreams and expectations to no avail.

Apparently my writing roots run deeper in the Charles Bukowski soil than I thought. Somewhere in that ethereal subsurface, the taproot has found tasty vintage in a deep, sometimes melancholic aquifer. Fortunately, the other roots keep feeding me the occasional tale or memory that provides diversion.

It isn’t what I had in mind. I wanted this to be a fun escape, not a baring of souls…

So that seems to be the highway we are hurtling down with occasional trips down the washboard backroads. And now, as Hunter said many years ago, I’ve bought the ticket. I might as well take the ride.

And you’re all coming with me. For that, I apologize. The advantage you have over me is this: you can jump off the train at anytime. I, however, am buckled in tightly with no knowledge of when or where the ride goes but with the belief that I will be gratefully exhilarated when it ends.

A little background to (hopefully) clarify today’s musing:

My own spirituality is a unique hybrid. If your gaze fell upon the shelf that I keep the books that I find the deepest solace and guidance in, you’d see a mix of Buddhist, Christian, Pagan and Native American spirituality.
The man-made elements of religion have done more to drive me away than to draw me closer to God. As a result, I’ve pushed myself further into seeking wisdom down different paths. In my spiritual travels, I’ve learned to note things such as today: the Vernal Equinox, combined with a New Moon and an eclipse.
My Druidic forebears would have seen great significance in this, and would have altered their usual rituals accordingly.

My own ritual? I will light a candle to mark the equinox and put my intention out there to keep writing and belief for it to grow, just as the farmer pushes the pumpkin seed into the cold spring soil in the belief that a strong healthy, fruitful vine will come forth even though he has no idea which direction the plant will go.

So today I will do a little equinox dance for you. I intend that the magnified power of today’s welcoming of the growing season will feed and sustain this virtual, verbal garden that I tend here. I will shed the doldrums and sluggishness of my Winter’s hibernation and keep priming the pump with these posts until it fills up and allows words to start flowing into a longer stream.

And I encourage you to the same in your life. Whatever it is that has been your passion and desire to do, and you have been sitting there waiting for the light to change from red to green, I encourage you to put more pressure on the gas pedal. As I have said before, my line of work reminds me daily of the short and unpredictable nature of this life. The power of today’s equinox also signals a change for your own growth. It is a sign for you to make the first move.

Take action. Till the soil. Turn last year’s regrets and hesitation under the earth to compost and fertilize this year’s adventures. The sun will warm the ground for you and the rains will fall to nourish whatever it is you should choose to plant.

Plant something and take care of it. An untended dream is like an unkept garden. If you just stick something and leave it to its own, it will most likely fall victim to pests and decay. The fruit will be bitter or rotten before you have a chance to enjoy it.

And that, dear reader, is a plain waste of your life and dreams. I will close this with some great motivation from “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield.

“Are you a born writer? Were you put on earth to be a painter, a scientist, an apostle of peace? In the end the question can only be answered by action.

Do it or don’t do it.

It may help to think of it this way. If you were meant to cure cancer or write a symphony or crack cold fusion and you don’t do it, you not only hurt yourself, even destroy yourself,. You hurt your children. You hurt me. You hurt the planet.

You shame the angels who watch over you and you spite the Almighty, who created you and only you with your unique gifts, for the sole purpose of nudging the human race one millimeter farther along its path back to God.

Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.”

See you down the trail.

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The Demon Why

Yesterday, I read an amazing blog post by my friend, Don. You can find his blog at donofalltrades.com. Don is a good cop, maybe the best of them. He understands how compassion, kindness and humor can defuse and remedy a lot of the awful situations he faces every day. I admire him and his writing is superb, but I especially admire his ability to do a job that I once thought I wanted but realize that I don’t have what it takes.
His latest post is called “A senseless death” and by reading it, an all-too-familiar demon was summoned.
The demon “Why?”
Through my years as a funeral director, I have had many encounters with clergy of all faiths who have been unable to dispel this particular demon satisfactorily.
He’s a demon that I just can’t seem to shake.
I have one of those jobs that brings things into my life that makes me wrestle with “why” on a regular basis.

*Why does a 6 year old have to take a bullet from some sub-human and die?
*Why did two sons from the same family die a couple of years apart? Both of them under 40. In unrelated circumstances. Why did I have to try and bring comfort to their wonderful, loving parents who hugged me and handled the loss seemingly more at peace than I did?”
*Why did the mother of an 8 year old boy (whose death from cancer stirred emotion from even us weather-beaten old salts) get murdered only a year or so after his death?
*Why did the friends of my parents have to suffer the loss of 2 children? One from suicide and one from a car wreck?
*Why did all the prayers of so many people that were being said from my father’s dying wife have no apparent effect?

For all my conversations with clergy, the common theme seems to be faith.

And forgive the brevity of this post, but I am having a hell of a hard time keeping faith alive when confronted with the demon “why” every day. I don’t know how my friend Don holds it together when he sees even more than I do.

A senseless death…

To any of my followers who have not read this man’s blog, you should. You’ll mostly laugh, but sometimes, like with this post, you’ll want to cry. He’s awesome, our daughters went to school together, and I am proud to call him a friend.

don of all trades

We arrived at the Children’s Hospital Emergency Room at the same time.

He and his partner parked and I pulled up to their left and did the same.

I got out of my car and watched as the officer hurried from his seat and opened the back, driver’s side door.

When the officer grabbed the boy from the back seat of his police Tahoe, I knew almost instantly.

There was a split second though, before instantly I guess, where I didn’t know. For that split second, the officer looked like any dad grabbing his sleeping boy from the car and putting the boy’s head on his shoulder to carry him inside to sleep comfortably in his own bed.

For that split second, it was a sweet moment.

The officer, an around fifty year old white guy, clutched the little boy over his left shoulder gently, but with a clear purpose. The boy was small, a…

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This one’s for the girls…

This will tie in nicely with my previous post, affirming without a doubt my weirdness.

There is a lot of hullaballo about this latest Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue and the advertisement for “Swimsuits For All.”

Let me go on record as saying that I am an ardent admirer of women. All shapes, all sizes, skin colors, hair colors, etc.

I have preached (to anyone who will listen) that a woman’s beauty, value and sexiness has NOTHING to do with a number on a scale.

Not a damned thing.

Let me tell you a quick story from my teen years: Being a dork, I spent a few weeks one summer at a Journalism Camp. Shocking, I know.
It was co-ed, and my first real unsupervised experience with the opposite sex. Me being me, no supervision was needed. As with the most of my years, the fairer sex pretty well ignored me at this camp. That’s beside the point. I have a memory of an incident at the pool that was my first vivid impression of the unhealthy view that a lot of women have towards themselves. A view that the media and certain male types have conjured up and inflicted upon them.

There were a number of girls at the pool, and one girl (who had a beautiful face and a willowy, model-type figure) came to sit on the edge of the pool. She was wearing a relatively modest one-piece suit, but you could almost physically feel her shame and discomfort. She sat for about ten minutes, and then fled back into the locker room in tears.

Because she had convinced herself in her mind that she was fat/looked fat.

There was another girl who went in to check on her reported that information to us. She was a redhead, lots of freckles and a thicker (but certainly not fat) build then the other girl. And while her face was pleasant enough, she wasn’t in the same class as the girl now weeping in the locker room.

But hot damn, she was so much sexier than the model-type.

I have never been able to put a tangible criteria on sexiness or whatever qualifies someone as sexy in my mind. But I have been fortunate enough to know a good number of sexy women who don’t fall into the archetype from magazines/movies, etc.

I think that it’s mostly due to confidence and attitude. The second girl was very comfortable in her own skin and with her own appearance. The first girl had everything a girl is/was supposed to have (in all the appropriate places, best as I could tell) but lacked that major piece of a belief in her own beauty or sense of self.

I still feel bad for her, and I hope that these many years later that she has come to peace with herself. As I feel bad for any woman who doesn’t believe that she is beautiful. I am amazed at the callousness that exists among other women with remarks like “She doesn’t belong in a bikini” or “Why is she wearing THAT?”

Such drivel. Who gave them the right to decide who is fit to be in a bikini and who is not? I’d like to know, because they deserve a kick in the ass…

That’s why I am SO pleased to see the #Swimsuitsforall campaign in that bastion of potential body-shaming, the Swimsuit Issue.

Ladies, you don’t need my permission to wear what you want during swimsuit season. Or anyone else’s for that matter. Wear whatever makes you feel the way you want to feel.

But it never hurts to hear from another source that you can be sexy. You can wear the swimsuit you desire. You are beautiful. And none of those depend on what your scale said this morning.

That being said, allow me to also say “I get it.” I’m sure that I am not the only guy to feel that way, but men get “fat-shamed” as well.

My own weight has fluctuated hither and yon. I have never felt really good about what my body looks like. Even when I weighed whatever I was supposed to weigh.

I have recently embarked on a exercise plan. Been at it about three weeks. I am cutting back on soda and other unhealthy foods.

All with one goal: this summer I will be frolicking on the beach in Jamaica. And I want to feel okay with being on the beach with my shirt off. I know that I won’t look like Jax Teller or Matt McConaughey, but I want to feel okay.

Just okay. Maybe sexy if I am REALLY lucky. (Or really drunk!)

Out of respect for your breakfast, I have decided not to post any “Before” selfie. But if I feel okay, I might post an “After.” I make no promises.

But I do promise this: I am determined to feel better about myself. I am determined to walk on the beach shirtless (it helps that I will be in another country where people who know me won’t be able to see).

And I promise to be an unwavering supporter of women who wear what they want and women who choose to be sexy.

Be who you are. Wear what you want. Be happy. Be confident. Be brave. The sexy will follow.

#nofatshamingofyourselvesallowed